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News: Top Stories

Parkland shooter entitled to inheritance; public defender asks to withdraw from case

Sun Sentinel logoSun Sentinel 4/24/2019 By Tonya Alanez and Megan O'Matz, Sun Sentinel

A message about grief counseling appears on the electronic signboard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one day after a shooting at the school left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. © Jonathan Drake/Reuters A message about grief counseling appears on the electronic signboard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one day after a shooting at the school left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Broward County public defender’s office has asked to withdraw from confessed Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz’s death penalty case, court records show.

The teen is entitled to half of a nearly $865,000 life insurance policy as of April 23, the court filing shows.

Gordon Weekes, assistant public defender, said, “We have to withdraw.”

Weekes said the public defender’s office just got new information that Cruz and his brother are to share in the life insurance policy, presumably for their mother, who died unexpectedly of a flu-like illness in November 2017.

The court will have to determine who his new counsel will be, Weekes said.

The public defender’s office is appointed in cases in which people are indigent. Someone with $400,000 is not indigent.

It’s unclear when or how Cruz, 20, who is locked up in the Broward jail, will get the money.

Weekes said the public defender’s office is prohibited from helping him.

The move will throw the criminal case off track. The judge had hoped to begin trial in January.

Cruz has pleaded not guilty to the murders of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Valentine’s Day 2018.

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©2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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